Carnegie Mellon University 
15721 Database System Design and Implementation
Spring 2003 - C. Faloutsos


A Database Management System (DBMS) is a software system designed to efficiently store, retrieve, manipulate, and query large amounts of data. Since the introduction of the relational data model in 1970, the database management system industry has grown to $100 billion dollars a year and increases by more that 25% every year. With the new and emerging internet applications posing new requirements in the DBMS design and implementation, the database market is expected to grow even faster, and database design and implementation techniques are constantly evolving to meet the new requirements.

Nevertheless, there is a basic and fairly standard set of techniques that have been developed to support high-performance database systems. These techniques include: B+trees, hash-based join algorithms, hierarchical and two-phase locking, two-phase commit, write-ahead-logging, recovery using shadow pages, and several query optimization strategies. The synergy amongst different techniques often poses restrictions; the design and implementation choices made at a certain module of the system may affect its interaction with others, and can place constraints on decisions at other levels that may not be immediately apparent.

The goal of this course is to investigate the traditional techniques and their interactions by studying several seminal papers and survey studies in the area. The course also involves a large project.



The course is intended for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. A good background in DBMS fundamentals is required, therefore, 15-415 (or equivalent) is a desired prerequisite. Students should be comfortable with the relational model, SQL, and the basic functions of database systems. Students should also be capable of implementing a large, complex system on UNIX in C or C++.



  1. Readings in Database Systems, Third Edition - edited by Michael Stonebraker and Joe Hellerstein, Morgan Kaufmann Publisher March 1998. Several of the papers in this book are available through the ACM digital library.
Recommended (but NOT required):
  1.  Gray, J., and Reuter, A., Transaction Processing: Concepts and Techniques, Morgan Kaufmann, 1993.
  2. The Benchmark Handbook for Database and Transaction Processing Systems, Second Edition - edited by Jim Gray, MorganKaufmann Publisher, 1993.
  3. Jiawei Han and Micheline Kamber, Data Mining: Concepts and Techniques, Morgan Kaufmann, 2000.
  4. Christos Faloutsos, Searching Multimedia Databases by Content, Kluwer Academic Press, 1996
If you have not taken a database course before, good introductory database textbooks are:
  1. A.Silbershatz, H. Korth and S. Sudarshan, Database System Concepts,4th edition, McGraw Hill Inc
  2.  R. Ramakrishnan and J. Gehrke, Database Management Systems.


The grading is as follows:
Project 50%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 20%
Homeworks 10%
Projects will be carried out in teams. A detailed handout about the project will be distributed at the beginning of the course, along with a list of suggested projects. The goal of the project is to give the participants the opportunity to tackle a large, interesting problem, which may lead to a publication.